Fifty years ago, something amazing was happening, all thanks to a new material: glassfibre.
Although hobbyists had been messing around in wooden boats for decades, the fact that wooden boats don’t lend themselves to mass production made them expensive, and the skills and/or financial outlay required to maintain them put off many a would-be sailor.
Glassfibre changed all that, and in the late ’50s and early ’60s glassfibre boats began to proliferate, many based on their wooden predecessors. By the late ’60s the number of people on the water had increased dramatically, and glassfibre was the norm for small-boat construction.
Even wooden boats became cheaper, as more became available second-hand as owners upgraded to the new material.
It’s a mark of this new enthusiasm for (and affordability of) leisure sailing that a new magazine surfaced to meet the needs of the increased number of boat owners, many of whom were working at the limit of their budget. They did all the work on their boats themselves, and needed a focal point for expertise on small-boat maintenance. The name of the magazine: Practical Boat Owner.
But PBO was by no means the only consequence of this revolution in leisure boating.
Clubs, classes and associations began to proliferate to support this new breed of sailor, and as a result many of these are celebrating their half-centuries at around this time.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend the dinner held by the Contessa 26 Association to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the class.
The centre point of a weekend-long rally, the event fell only two boats short of their target of 50 boats – an impressive achievement, and a stunning sight on Lymington’s Dan Bran pontoon.
With boats travelling hundreds of miles from Northumberland, Holland and Belgium to attend, it’s a fitting testament to (in my biased opinion) one of the best sailing boats of her time. She certainly seems to hold a special place in the affections of her builder Jeremy Rogers and his wife Fiona, who recently restored Grayling in time to join her sisters at the rally.
Others are celebrating too. The Westerly Owners’ Association marks its 50th this year and has been organising a range of events, regional and national, to ensure that this leviathan of British boatbuilding receives the recognition it deserves. Weir Quay SC also mark their half century.
They aren’t the only ones – our print and online news pages have featured 50th anniversaries too numerous to mention here, and no doubt the next couple of years will see more.
Which is why we’re inviting you to get in touch.
PBO launched in January 1967 and quickly grew to become Britain’s biggest boating magazine, a position it holds to this day.
We’ll be marking the anniversary in our January 2017 issue with a tribute to all the clubs, classes and associations celebrating with us, so if you have recently had a 50th anniversary event, or are about to have one, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo and a few words about what you’re celebrating.
Here’s a full list of the September 2016 issue’s contents:
Tips for sailing in light airs: How to make best progress in calm weather – without the engine
PBO Tested – Mooring snubbers: Which will best protect your boat?
PBO Tested – Furuno’s new radar: Latest pulse-compression technology
New instruments using NMEA 2000: Ben Meakins’ Impala 28 receives a timely instrument upgrade
Troubleshooting a second-hand trailer: What to look out for when buying a used boat trailer
Mend and reinforce a blown-out spinnaker: A new lease of life for an almost-dead asymmetric spinnaker
Expert advice for tricky mainsails: If your mainsail is hard to hoist or reluctant to drop, what can you do about it?
Production boat adventurers: Tales of derring-do in off-the-peg cruisers
PBO Tested – On the water in the Orkney Pilot House 25: Not a short-wheelhouse version of the Pilot House 27, but a standalone model
Hot tips for heater fitting: After 13 years, David Pugh finally warms to the idea of fitting a heater to his boat
Southampton Boat Show preview: More sailing boats on the water than ever before at Europe’s biggest boating festival
PBO Tested – Top-down furling system: The Harken Reflex assessed
A key moment on passage: A reader’s key snaps off in his boat’s ignition, at the worst possible moment
Make a ‘double-knuckle rowing linkage’: and fit a wireless remote control for an anchor windlass, PLUS more reader projects and tips
Flushed with success: The process involved in carrying out a sea toilet service
Reinforcing the forestay and chainplates: Dave Selby prevents Marlin from succumbing to the ‘Sailfish smile’
Dealing with rolled-up charts: Hints and tips from the PBO Sketchbook
Making for Maassluis: A little-known refuge in Holland
Don’t miss Mitika!: An unspoilt gem of a Greek harbour for Ionian cruisers
Waiting for the tide: The editor’s welcome to this month’s PBO – sign up for PBO’s free monthly e-newsletter at: http://emails.timeincuk.co.uk/YBW_webcross
‘Mad about the Boat’ columnist Dave Selby: Not such a mug now, eh?
Columnist Sam Llewellyn: A Kraken sail
Monthly musings from Andrew Simpson: Making a meal of the leftovers
PBO products and services: Books and plans from the PBO Shop
News: Lessons learned from devastating yacht fire, new marine heritage scheme… and more
Regional news: Navigational warning in Brightlingsea area, Peel Harbour dredging delay… and more
Readers’ letters: Your views
Ask the experts: Replacing anodes, fuel hose breakdown, and more reader queries answered
New gear: PBO looks at the latest marine products
Nearly 50 boats attended the Contessa 26 50th anniversary rally weekend for celebrations in Lymington and Yarmouth.
‘Flames were licking out of the companionway’: yachtsman watched his beloved boat burn following two-year restoration
A romantic proposal boosted celebrations at the fourth Contessa 26 National championships in Cowes.
The fleet have scattered following a party and Parade of Sail
More than 7,000 visitors flocked to Beaulieu Boatjumble yesterday and left the Hampshire country estate laden with bargains.